Annual Festival of Trees at the Wadsworth Atheneum: Parent Review

It's that time of year when twinkling lights and shiny bulbs are everywhere.  But I'll bet you have never seen a unique bevy of Christmas trees like the ones you will see at the Festival of Trees at the Wadsworth Atheneum.  This annual event has been going for 43 years (I know!), and was established by the Women's Committee of the Museum as a fundraiser. Don't miss out, this Sunday is the last day of the festival.

Every year, my family and I make our trek into Hartford. It's a great opportunity for my boys to be exposed to some amazing artists and to see the beautiful decorated trees people have created.

Being the cheapskate that I am, I usually drive around the area surrounding the Wadsworth a few times so that I can find on-street parking.  If you go during a weekday, it won't be a problem.  After a short walk (bundle up), the Wadsworth looms over head. 

The Festival of Trees is directly behind the first art gallery, which is directly behind the information desk. 

When you walk into the room where the trees are located, the ceiling disappears and you are surrounded by marble.  If you're lucky, like we were, you will stumble upon a musical performance.  We happened to catch the performance of the Travelers Chorale, they were amazing and the sound quality in the hall was fantastic.  It really put all of us in good holiday cheer!

The trees line the exterior of the room and we walked from one to the next starting at one end of the hall.  Each year, a different theme is chosen and the trees can be quite unique. My children were thrilled to see a Peanuts-themed tree, a Minecraft wreath, and a tree entirely decorated with stuffed animals.

Try to slow your kids down as they meander through the trees because they might be tempted to hurry through (they are kids after all). There are very small details you won't want them to miss.

Some tips for your visit:

1. Go during the less busy times (not a Saturday).  The event runs until December 11.

2. Entry is $18 for adults and $3 for kids.  They entirely waive these charges if you arrive Wednesday through Sunday between 4 and 5 p.m. There is an additional $3 charge for the event.

3. Plan to look at other things in the museum as well.

4. Encourage your kids to look and not touch.

5. Plan your trip to coincide with one of the musical performances. It's amazing!

Happy tree gazing!

Photo: Jennifer Coe

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